December 1933

21st Amendment Ratified, Prohibition Ended


December 5, 2017 marks 84 years since the United States ratified the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and paved the way for the modern three-tier beverage alcohol system.

WSWA President and CEO Statement on Ruling to Dismiss Lebamoff Enterprises v. Rauner

Wholesaler Chief Says Ruling Again Demonstrates Courts’ Long-Standing and Repeated Support for Primary State Authority and Three-Tier System

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) President and CEO Craig Wolf today issued the below statement following a recent Illinois court ruling that reinforced the constitutionality and important societal benefits of the three-tier system of beverage alcohol regulation. The Illinois decision is just one of numerous recent court decisions across multiple states each upholding these important principles.

The ruling was issued June 8 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Lebamoff Enterprises v. Rauner.  District Judge Der-Yeghiayan held that Illinois law prohibiting an out-of-state retailer from directly shipping beverage-alcohol to an in-state consumer, did not violate the Commerce Clause. 

“To allow Out-of-State Plaintiffs to operate outside the three-tier system in Illinois, while in-state retailers diligently operate within the regulatory system and help to limit the potential social problems connected with improper use of alcohol, would actually provide Out-of-State Plaintiffs with an unfair advantage over the in-state retailers rather than remove any self-perceived disadvantage to Plaintiffs.  Plaintiffs’ Commerce Clause claims in this action thus seek to foster unfair advantages in commerce, which is ironically contrary to the Commerce Clause,” the ruling noted.  It further stated that plaintiffs’ claims of discriminatory treatment is an attempt to circumvent the Illinois statutory scheme designed to protect the Illinois public. 

“For over eight decades, primary state authority and a strong regulatory framework have been guiding principles of the three-tier system of beverage alcohol manufacture, distribution and sales.  The modern three-tier system enables American consumers to enjoy the widest selection of products available anywhere in the world, while guaranteeing appropriate regulatory oversight, efficient tax collection, as well as a commitment to social responsibility and opposition to underage access,” said WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf.

A complete copy of Judge Der-Yeghiayan’s ruling is here.    

“WSWA supports the rights of states to regulate alcohol within their borders as granted by the Twenty-first Amendment.  Judge Der-Yeghiayan’s ruling includes strong language in support of a well-regulated three-tier system and the principle of primary state authority,” Wolf added.  “This ruling is a powerful blow against those who seek to work around, not within, the nation’s long-standing and consistently upheld beverage-alcohol laws.”

WSWA is the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry, dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesalers, distributors and brokers of wine and spirits.  Founded in 1943, WSWA has more than 370 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and its members distribute more than 80 percent of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the U.S.  Visit to learn more.


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